It is late summer 2015 and nobody knows that Tom Dumoulin is on the verge of a breakthrough. Not the 24 year-old Dutchman himself, nor his team-mates at Giant-Alpecin. It doesn’t figure in his employers’ plans. The top tens of Grand Tour contenders put out by magazines and websites ahead of such races do not feature him. The best three-week riders in the world might know his name but have no idea he is set to join their ranks.
Dumoulin has shown promise in week-long races, winning stages at the Tour de Suisse and the Eneco Tour, placing twice overall in successive years at both. He finished second to Tony Martin in the penultimate stage TT at last year’s Tour de France. By more than a minute but still, Tony Martin. A podium at Paris-Nice, maybe Romandie, should be next, though Dumoulin has already said his target for 2016 is an Olympic medal. A gold one.
He is thought of by his team as an exciting prospect for the future but they see him, for now at least, as “a world class time trialist who’s very good on the hills”. He can make it over the high mountains (more or less) but he is not expected to challenge in them.
That is about to change.
He’s one of the best Grand Tour men of a generation now; in 2015, Tom Dumoulin was a 1,000-1 outsider before the Vuelta a España that kickstarted his career. The “Butterfly of Maastricht” and his team-mates reflect on how they nearly pulled off the greatest shock in modern Grand Tour racing.
The Rouleur Longreads Podcast brings you selected long form articles from the magazine, especially recorded for Rouleur. Don’t stop what you’re doing – do it while listening to the world’s best cycling writing.
The latest in this series is ‘The Butterfly Effect’ by Nick Christian, from Rouleur 18.6, read by George Oliver. Download the Rouleur app and use the code BUTTERFLY to read the whole issue free of charge.
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